Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein
Woman with a brilliant mind

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What choice do you have but to be thankful?

I feel sorry for Gertrude a little bit because she seems so alone. Who does she have to eat Thanksgiving dinner with? I asked her to come and eat with me and Petrus but when I did, she didn't say anything--she just shrunk down momentarily and turned her eyes away. My husband doesn't ever see her but she stays away from him too, like they're both positive poles and I'm a negative one. I dunno.

I went to Gertrude's once when she made a special meal. It wasn't for any predetermined reason, nothing like "okay we're all going to sit down and be thankful today," nothing like that. She wanted to celebrate a full moon on the birthday of someone who meant a lot to her, who is no longer on this earth.

She put a beautiful silk runner on her cleaned-off dining room table, and lit every candle she owned. We drank goblets of dark and musty wine as we tasted some rich, well-marbled cheese and very crusty bread. She told me the story of her old friend and teacher, Leonard Neibaur, who spoke four languages and knew of many things too complicated to teach. He introduced her to philosophers and told her of the real-life implications that grew out of each philosophical basis. When he did, he told it all in the form of storytelling. He'd known many people and many situations, because of the network of friends and colleagues he'd built up all of his life. I asked Gertrude, what was the nature of their relationship--just friends? She shut her eyes for a moment and smiled, and that was all the information I could get.

After we finished the wine we went out and sat on a bench, looking at the clouds drift across the moon. It was cold and I started to shiver, but I felt so enchanted I didn't want to go in. We scooted together on the bench and huddled with our arms across one another's shoulders. We finally went in when the street sweeping machines went grumbling loudly past.

I don't know what Gertrude does when I'm not there. I think she reads a lot, and makes soup. I'm grateful for her. Maybe I'll bake her a pound cake and take it over to her.

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